Objective: To elucidate the putative arteriopathy associated with alpha 1-antitrypsin (alpha 1-AT) deficiency.
Design: We retrospectively studied the frequency of occurrence of fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) in patients with alpha 1-AT deficiency in whom a postmortem examination had been done during a 10-year period at the Mayo Clinic.
Material and methods: The medical records of all patients in whom an autopsy was done at the Mayo Clinic between 1983 and 1992 were reviewed to identify all those with a diagnosis of alpha 1-AT deficiency or FMD.
Results: Arterial FMD was found in 2 of 6 patients with alpha 1-AT deficiency (33.3%; 95% confidence interval, 4.3 to 77.7%) in comparison with 23 of 6,690 patients without alpha 1-AT deficiency (0.3%; 95% confidence interval, 0.2 to 0.5%). In both patients with alpha 1-AT deficiency and FMD, the arterial media was thickened and composed of irregular arrays of muscular and connective tissue fibers in a background of mucoid ground substance.
Conclusion: These findings provide further evidence for an underlying arteriopathy in patients with alpha 1-AT deficiency and suggest that FMD may be a non-specific disorder.